Santa Barbara County Fire Department rushed to construct earthen dams Saturday to contain nearly 4,200 gallons of crude oil that spilled from a tanker trailer that rolled down an embankment and into the Cuyama River in California.
“SBCo Fire was able to stop all forward progress of the oil spill in the riverbed near the (United States Forest Service) Station,” fire department public information officer Daniel Bertucelli reports on Twitter.
The incident happened at about 4:30 a.m. some 20 miles from Santa Maria in California’s Central Coast region. The driver of the truck-trailer rig told CHS that the truck had strayed onto the shoulder of the road. When he tried to correct, the tanker trailer uncoupled, crashing down the embankment
SBCo responded to the scene shortly after 6 a.m. and found an oil spill extending nearly two miles down the riverbed.
“The driver was uninjured but the crude oil is moving toward Twitchell Dam,” Bertucelli posted soon after responders arrived.
By noon, a unified command involving SBCo, the California Highway Patrol, California Department of Transportation, U.S. Fish & Wildlife and Twitchell Dam Reclamation had been established. Meanwhile, a containment boom had been stretched just below the spill.
Within three hours an underflow dam had been built to contain oil flowing from the wreck.
“The dam allows water to continue flowing downstream through large pipe while the oil on the surface is contained until it can be removed by a vacuum truck,” Bertucelli posted.
By 5 p.m. a second underflow dam had been completed for further containment. Responders rushed to complete the second dam due to a forecast of rain.